The Small Business Advocate with a Progressive Agenda
The consequences of political uncertainty are one of the greatest threats to small business growth. But, as individual business owners wait to see how business policy takes shape under a Trump presidency, the small business advocate group Small Business Majority has put together “A Small Business Agenda for the First 100 Days” of the new administration, a collection of “policies to ensure the wellbeing of America’s small business.”
Small business in 2017
Founded in 2005 by small business owners, the Small Business Majority is unique among small business advocacy groups in its origins and agenda.
More well-known groups like National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and the National Federation of Retailers (NFR) tend to garner their support from chains and national retailers like department stores. The NFIB, for example, has brought a lawsuit against the Obama administration for its passage of the Affordable Care Act, which has provided health insurance to millions of small business owners and their employees. Similarly, the NFR came out strongly against overtime pay and filed their own lawsuit against new overtime pay regulations.
Many small business groups may believe that a “thriving small business ecosystem is essential to creating a dynamic and inclusive economy” and that “small business entrepreneurship is a proven pathway for Americans from all walks of life to build income, independence and financial security for themselves, their families and their employees.” However, the Small Business Majority sees a different path to creating that dynamic and inclusive economy.
To keep their finger on the pulse of small business in America, the organization works with a network of over 50,000 business owners, partners with nearly 150 business organizations, and conducts significant scientific and economic research to advocate for a progressive small business growth agenda.
Through that work, the Small Business Majority determined that there are five key areas that policymakers must focus on to see small business succeed under the Trump administration: the Affordable Care Act, tax reform, infrastructure, access to capital, and immigration.
The Affordable Care Act
Rather than a “repeal and delay,” the Small Business Majority would like to see the Trump administration improve upon the Affordable Care Act by increasing access and affordability for small business owners.
Since its implementation in 2010, more than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Certainly, there is still work to be done on many of the ACA’s provisions, like improved support for small businesses through the health marketplace, greater tax credits for business owners who elect to cover employees, and a reduction of risk in insurance marketplace. Nonetheless, the fact remains that repealing the ACA would leave tens of millions of Americans—particularly small business owners and employees, as well as freelancers—without healthcare.
Further, the Small Business Majority notes that an important economic effect of the ACA is its elimination of “job lock,” meaning that “workers who previously felt tied to their job by their benefits package” are now more likely “to strike out on their own entrepreneurial path or join thriving small businesses.”
Small business owners agree: large corporations need to pay their fair share. Indeed, the Small Business Majority’s research shows that “90 percent of small business owners believe big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay, and 92 percent believe corporations’ use of those loopholes is a problem,” including the shifting of U.S. profits overseas.
The Small Business Majority hopes the Trump administration will close the tax loopholes that allow multinational corporations to park profits made in the US in overseas tax havens.
Similarly, while the Trump administration has floated the idea of tax credit for the wealthiest one percent of Americans, the Small Business Majority sees more tax cuts for the rich as a huge disservice to small business owners and the majority of American taxpayers. It is this group who will end up footing the bill for such a tax break on the wealthy.
Investment in infrastructure
According to the Small Business Majority, “Investment in our nation’s infrastructure is an investment in America, pure and simple, creating tremendous opportunities for small businesses.”
The country’s infrastructure is literally the foundation of small business success, from the beginning of the supply chain to its end point. A healthy infrastructure means access to customers and suppliers, streamlines business operations, and even creates demand for small businesses’ goods and services. The infrastructure doesn’t just support small businesses, however; many such businesses “anchor” the supply chain by running the “hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, and other business that serve the people working” on our infrastructure.
Right now, “nearly 25 percent of our country’s 605,000 bridges are failing, one-third of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition and much of rural America lacks crucial access to broadband technology.”
The Small Business Majority believes broadband internet connections must be available in all of our communities, providing the operational and locational infrastructure for coworking and shared office spaces in which entrepreneurs can grow their businesses. Funding to re-authorize the Highway Trust Fund must be allocated to keep our highways in good condition.
Expanding access to capital
Since the 2008-09 recession, access to capital for small business owners has been hard to come by. Traditional banks have been issuing fewer small business loans. Increasingly, credit unions and alternative lenders are filling the cash flow needs of small business owners. The Small Business Majority is calling upon lawmakers to expand access to capital for small business owners, beyond traditional banking models.
This means increased support for the Small Business Association and their various loan programs, more loan programs specifically for minority and women-owned businesses, an increase in credit unions’ lending cap from 12.5 percent to 27.5 percent of assets, and an expansion of state funding earmarked for small business loans.
In addition to these policy recommendations, the Small Business Majority wants small business owners represented when the Securities and Exchange Commission makes policy that affects small business interests.
Immigration and small business
The Small Business Majority argues that immigration reform is necessary for small business success. Their polling found that “a vast majority of our nation’s small business owners agree that the most appropriate immigration solution is to create a path toward citizenship accompanied by effective enforcement. Three-quarters believe we would be better off if people who are now in the country illegally became legal taxpayers, so they can pay their fair share.”
Immigrants fuel small business success in two major ways. A great number of small business employees are immigrants. As small businesses struggle to find qualified workers under the current immigration laws, filling jobs is becoming harder and harder. And, immigrants are almost twice as likely to start a new business as the average non-immigrant. Given the fact that two-thirds of all new jobs come from small businesses, it’s clear that immigrants are major drivers and supporters of the American economy. Put simply, small businesses want “public policies that foster this economic dynamism.”
Small business advocate
The Small Business Majority works to engage the country’s 28 million small business owners and the 120 million individuals those business owners employ in the public policy process that affects them and to educate small business owners about the resources available to them.
The organization offers webinars on topics like “California Workplace Benefits” and “ABCs of Financing Your Small Business and Building Your Retirement” and a roundup of relevant news from across the country.
You can learn more about the Small Business Majority’s mission and programs at their site.